City Faith – An Unknown Mystic’s Roadside Grave, Zakir Hussain Marg
The essence of an anonymous grave.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Most of central Delhi used to be a jungle. It is said that dacoits roamed between Mehrauli in the south and Shahjahanabad (aka the old Delhi) in the north. The forest was also home to Muslim ascetics who lived there to avoid the crowds. When such a holy man died, he was usually buried in the same place where he had lived and meditated all his spiritual life. Some of these memorials became famous Sufi shrines; most were lost with time.
However, a few graves have miraculously continued to survive, if only anonymously.
One such piece of the past is an unknown person’s tombstone along Zakir Hussain Marg. Actually, Zakir Hussain Marg must have been built past it.
Today, the grave finds itself on a leaf-strewn footpath. With its gleaming green and white tiles, it is obviously a recently-built structure. On every Thursday evening, when dargahs across the Capital teem with pilgrims, this roadside tomb too is lit up with candles. In fact, there are many Sufi shrines in the area — the dargah of Hazrat Bibi Fatima is a 10-minute walk away.
This afternoon, there is no one around the shrine. Some devotee has left behind marigold garlands on the grave. An earthen lamp is flickering weakly in the strong dust-laden breeze. The traffic on the road is going on unconcernedly. Not a single car or bike is slowing down. The shrine remains unseen, as if it were still in the jungle of the old days.
A Sufi’s company